Local Matters

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restaurants

March 28, 2020 - 7:00pm

This is a FREE listing of locally owned restaurants and food-related businesses. (No need to be a current sponsor of The Batavian.) To be added to the list, email [email protected] or [email protected]

(We'll put this back to the top of the home page each time it's updated.)

Here are local restaurants and food-related businesses with either delivery, curbside pickup, or takeout, or limited on-site access:

Alex's Place, Takeout and delivery, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., daily. Menu. (585) 344-2999

Angotti's Beverage, Curbside takeout available.10 a.m. - 7 p.m. Monday - Saturday; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Batavia's Original, Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday, 4 to 10 p.m., free delivery within city limits, curbside pickups, takeout. Menu. Call: (585) 343-3303

Blondies Sip-N-Dip, ice cream and frozen yogurt, 670 E. Main Street Road, Batavia. Open for the season. For now, serving customers at the walk-up window.

Bourbon & Burger Co., Delivery Monday-Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (last orders are taken at 8 p.m.). Menu. Delivery within Batavia City limits Call: (585) 219-4242

Buttercrumbs Bakery in Corfu, Takeout, Monday through Friday 6 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturday 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sunday 7 a.m. to noon. Call (585) 599-4550

Byron Hotel and Trail House, Takeout available from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Closed Sundays. Most menu items are available for takeout. Menu. Please call ahead to give us adequate time to stagger your orders for pickup. Now (3/24) taking orders for Friday Fish Fry. Call: (585) 548-9992

Caryville Inn, Oakfield, Takeout/curbside Wednesday-Saturday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Delivery also available Wednesday-Saturday only from 4 to 9 p.m. (585) 948-9780

Center Street Smoke House, curbside pickup starting at 4 p.m. every day. Menu Page 1. Menu Page 2. Pickup is at the westside door, drive-thru Jackson Square.(585) 343-7470

Chap's Elba Diner, delivery to Elba, Batavia, Barre, Albion ("If any of our elderly customers need anything we will be there for them."), Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. (585) 757-5001 or (585) 797-7505

Cinquino's Pizza, takeout and curbside pickup within Batavia city limits. Menu. (585) 343-2447

Commit to Well (from the proprietor of Eat Well Grill), healthy meal prep service. Meals are $8 each, plus tax. New menu posted every week with details available on Facebook, or for more information call Eat Well Grill at (585) 446-3033.

Cookies2Remember, a food-licensed retail bakery located inside Oliver's Candies. Taking online orders with a newly modified "ship on Mondays" schedule. The main product is photo cookie gifts, with or without engraved keepsake tins. Also offering hand-decorated cookies for Easter! Special this week is "$1,000" personalized cookie "money." To order, visit the website. Questions? Email proprietor Trisha Fietz at [email protected]

The Coffee Press,Takeout and curbside pick up all of our menu items (drinks included) Monday-Saturday 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Menu. (585) 483-3096

D & R Depot Restaurant in Le Roy, Open 11 a.m. -1 p.m., & 4 to 7 p.m. Free delivery in Le Roy, and $1/mile for locations outside of Le Roy. (No minimum). "Track-side" pickup (our play on curbside). Our full menu is available! Customers can order via our website or mobile app, or by phone (585) 768-6270.

Dave's Ice Cream, Drive-thru and window service open from 2 - 8 p.m. Visit our Facebook page for flavor updates.

Dibble Family Center, dinner service pickup and delivery, daily from 4 to 7 p.m. New menus posted daily. Ror more information, click here. (585) 409-0011

Eat Well Grill, Takeout is available in addition to delivery via Door Dash, Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Menu. (585) 446-3033

Eden Vegan Cafe & Bakeshop, Offering pre-order meals via the website carrotdogcafe.com. Menu. 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Call in your order (585) 815-4487

Eli Fish Brewing Co., Takeout and delivery, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., daily. Menu. (585) 343-0008

Fishtales Hideaway, Open for takeout only. 11 a.m. - 8 p.m. Tuesday - Saturday. Menu.

Fullerino's Pizzeria, Takeout and delivery Sunday thru Saturday. (585) 548-2727

Islands Hawaiian Grill, Free delivery, Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.Menu. Family meal deals available. (585) 483-3113

Jerry Arena's Pizzeria, takeout and delivery, 3 to 11 p.m. daily, lunch Friday through Sunday. Cash or ATM only. (585) 344-4424

Los Compadres Mexican Taqueria, 40 Oak St., Batavia. Operating 7 days a week from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. for pickup. Daily delivery hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with free delivery offered within a 10-mile radius of the taqueria. Menu pages -- here and here. Order online via Door Dash; or phone (585) 250-4067.

Mama Chavez's Taqueria in Le Roy, Takeout orders only. Tues - Sat. 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. Click here for daily specials. Call in your order for pickup (585) 502-5093.

Mr. Wine & Liquor, curbside pickup and free delivery with orders of at least $15, daily, noon to 6 p.m. (585) 219 4050

My Saloon, 1928 Broadway, Darien Center, is open for takeout or curbside service (request when placing the order). Hours Sunday & Monday 2 to 8 p.m., Tuesday to Friday 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (hours are subject to change). Menu. Orders can be placed by calling (585) 547-9911.

Northside Deli, Takeout, Monday thru Saturday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Menu. (585) 343-2888

O'Lacy's Irish Pub, TAKEOUT ONLY 4 to 7 p.m. "Old-fashioned Comfort Food." Cans, bottles and growlers of beer to go! Call ahead to order (585) 343-3270.

Oliver's Candies, 211 W. Main St. Open 7 days a week, 9 a.m. - 7 p.m. Inside store shopping, curbside pickup. Ice cream parlor open. (585) 343-5888

Public Coffee Hub, food and beverages for pickup. Times and locations vary. Click here to find out where the food truck is today.

Rancho Viejo Mexican Restaurant, 12 Ellicott St., Batavia. Operating 7 days a week for takeout and delivery. See the menu here. Hours are Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Order online via Door Dash, or phone Rancho Viejo at (585) 343-3903.

Southside Deli, 300 Ellicott St. (at the corner of Liberty Street), Batavia. Takeout only 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. All deli and store items are available. Here's the menu. Call ahead for a quicker service. (585) 344-2220

Sweet Life Country Store, 100 S. Main St., Elba. Open Mon. 12 - 5 p.m., Tues. - Sat. 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Inside store shopping, curbside pickup, low-priced local delivery. Ice cream parlor open. (585) 312-1200

The Original Red Osier Landmark Restaurant in Stafford, Delivery and curbside pickup Tuesday through Sunday, 4:15 to 8 p.m. (closed Mondays). Visit the website here and click "Menu" to see all regular options; click "Specials" to see those options, including $10 dinners. All menu items are ALWAYS available for takeout. (585) 343-6972

Roman's (formerly Ken's Charcoal Pits), Delivery within the City/Town of Batavia (at our discretion), Tuesday-Saturday from 11 a.m. 9 p.m. (last orders are taken at 8 p.m.). Menu. (585) 345-6788

T.F. Brown's, free delivery in Batavia city limits, and curbside pickup, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., daily. Debit/Credit for delivery required; cash payment available for curbside pickup. Order onlinetfbrowns.com or through the mobile app. (585) 343-1547

Viking Valhalla Restaurant, open for takeout Tuesday through Saturday, 3 to 7 p.m. Menu. (585) 494-9900

West Main Wine & Spirits, offering curbside pickup. 341 W. Main St., Batavia. (585) 344-2717

The Willow Bend Inn, Friday fish fries along with a limited menu for takeout/curbside service. Facebook menu and orders can be called in from 4 to 7:30 p.m. at (585) 343-9767.

The Yngodess Shop, curbside pickup, and free delivery with a $20 minimum. (1 - 6 p.m.) call for more details. Sunday 12 - 6 p.m., Monday - Saturday 10 a.m. - 9 p.m. Call in your order. (585) 343-3170

Twilight Meadows Restaurant, 11071 Route 98, Alexander (in Genesee County but Attica mailing address). Classic American diner fare. Open seven days a week for takeout: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Fridays; and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the weekends. (585) 591-2811

March 23, 2020 - 5:39pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, restaurants, The Great American Takeout.

Press release:

The Genesee County Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center is encouraging area residents to take the night off from cooking on Tuesday, March 24th and order takeout!

A national coalition of restaurants has organized “The Great American Takeout” on Tuesday, March 24, asking Americans to order at least one delivery or pickup meal on Tuesday to show support for the restaurant industry.

Many of our favorite restaurants are still working hard to keep us fed and the only way to support these struggling businesses is to order takeout or delivery.  

Staying home doesn't mean you have to miss out on "Taco Tuesday" or your favorite weekly specials; order takeout, delivery or curbside pickup and be part of something bigger: #TheGreatAmericanTakeout

There are great breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert options on this list, so be sure to show your support all day!

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Editor's Note: Click here for The Batavian's list of local restaurants that offer takeout and/or delivery.

March 20, 2020 - 11:15am

Statement from Melissa Fleischut, president and CEO of the New York State Restaurant Association:

“We are happy to announce that all New York small businesses, including restaurants, are now eligible for low-interest loans through the federal Small Business Administration.

"Up until (now), New York businesses were unable to apply for these much needed loans due to communities not being listed as 'disaster areas.' Through continued conversations with Empire State Development and representatives from the federal SBA program, we’ve conveyed how serious the situation is for New York restaurants.

"Many have already shut their doors and will not be able to reopen. While this is a great first step, we need to find additional ways to save the restaurant industry. When this pandemic is over, going out for a nice meal will help us all feel normal again. But some restaurants simply won’t make it.”

UPDATE 1:48 p.m.: “We can’t thank Governor Cuomo and state officials enough for forgiving interest and penalties on late sales tax payments," Fleishut said. "For some restaurants, this little bit of breathing room could mean the difference between paying employees and shutting their doors forever. That being said, this relief is temporary, and we’ll continue to advocate for additional ways to help restaurants survive during this crisis.”

March 17, 2020 - 10:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in restaurants, batavia, news, covid-19, coronavirus.

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It was a very different atmosphere in O'Lacy's Irish Pub in Batavia tonight -- St. Patrick's Day, an evening when O'Lacy's should be brimming with life and overflowing with Guinness.

Instead, it was quiet, perhaps even a bit melancholy, as the community adjusts to social distancing in the era of coronavirus.  

The good news is, O'Lacy's sold out of corned beef and cabbage dinners.

It was also a good night for take-out at Eli Fish (including take-out brews --  yes, local bars and restaurants can serve you take-out alcohol during the present executive directive). Other restaurant owners we spoke with said they are cautiously optimistic about how things will work out now that there is a temporary prohibition about on-site dining and drinking in bars and restaurants.

Click here for a list of local establishments offering delivery and pickup.

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"Onward"

September 5, 2019 - 5:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, restaurants, downtown, business.
Video Sponsor

Kourtney and Cait Kunichika have opened Islands Hawaiian Grill on Main Street in Batavia (former location of Larry's Steakhouse).

Kourtney, from California, moved to Western New York to play hockey at RIT and eventually became a professional hockey player in Buffalo.

While living in Batavia, she started working at local restaurants and found she really loved food and hospitality, so the restaurant is inspired by both her passion for her Hawaiian culture -- especially since there are no Hawaiian restaurants in Western New York -- and her passion for the restaurant business.

July 12, 2019 - 10:42am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Mama Chavez Taqueria, Le Roy, video, restaurants, business.
Video Sponsor

Mama Chavez Taqueria opens today in Le Roy. Owner Maria Chavez and her sons held a ribbon-cutting and an open house for invited guests yesterday. This is an authentic -- very authentic -- Mexican restaurant.  

Chavez has been cooking Mexican food, using recipes handed down through her family, for her children and family friends for 30 years. It's always been her dream to open a restaurant.  

The restaurant is located at 7 Mill St. and is open Tuesday through Saturday.

July 11, 2019 - 4:44pm

Press release from the GC Health Department:

The Genesee County Health Department has recently been awarded a grant to provide the hepatitis A vaccine to food-service workers at NO COST to them or the employer.

In Western New York and across the United States, foodborne outbreaks of hepatitis A have occurred as a result of infected food-service workers.

Brenden Bedard, director of Community Health Services for Genesee and Orleans counties, understands the severity of hepatitis A and the effect it can have on a business and community.

“Hepatitis A is a serious issue because most food-service workers will spread the infection before even knowing they have the disease," Bedard said. "A food-service worker can spread the virus to customers or other staff by contaminating surfaces, utensils and/or food, which can make unvaccinated individuals very sick.

"By offering the vaccine to food-service workers, we can prevent unnecessary illness from spreading in the community.”

Hepatitis A is a contagious (spreadable) liver infection that is caused by the hepatitis A Virus (HAV). It is typically spread through the feces (poop) of infected individuals.

Someone can become infected by consuming food or drink that has been contaminated by feces as well as having close personal contact with a person who is infected, or use of injection and non-injection drugs.

The symptoms of HAV may include sudden onset of fever, loss of appetite, nausea / vomiting, stomach pain, dark-colored urine and jaundice (a yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes). HAV usually does not have signs or symptoms until the second week of infection and is the most infectious during this time.

The good news is that hepatitis A can be prevented through vaccination!

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the vaccine has a 94- to 100-percent efficacy rate.

The hepatitis A vaccine is a two-dose series that is administered six months apart. As the vaccine is not required to attend school or daycare, many people have not received it.

Currently three local restaurants have taken advantage of this opportunity for themselves and their employees who chose to receive the vaccine. The restaurants who have participated thus far have all expressed gratitude knowing their employees can protect themselves and their customers from the hepatitis A virus.

Any food-service worker employed in Genesee County can receive the vaccine.

By receiving the vaccine, you are also protecting yourself from getting the virus if you come in contact with dishes and/or utensils that may have been contaminated by a customer or coworker.

Restaurants that participate in this opportunity will receive a certificate honoring their commitment to protecting the health and safety of their workers and customers.

Limited vaccine is available through the funding, so the supply will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more information, please call the Genesee County Health Department at 585-344-2580, ext. 5555. The department is open Monday – Friday from 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.

For more information on the hepatitis A virus, click (PDF) here.

May 31, 2019 - 5:24pm

 

Video Sponsor

 

Batavia has a new Mexican food truck, Over the Border, from the Bender family -- Todd, Evan, and Ryan.

Evan said he hopes this is one of many different food trucks they plan to operate out of Batavia.  

October 29, 2018 - 6:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in terry hills, restaurants, news, notify, batavia.

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Let's talk about French fries.

The lowly fry. Can you really kick it up a notch?

Cooking a gourmet fry is actually no secret. Any competent chef can do it. But it's a lot of work.

The new chef at Terry Hills, John Steward, is ready to do the work.

It's a four-day process that consists of blanching, drying, blanching again, more drying, freezing and then frying.

The result is a fry that has a veneer of crunch and a soft, fluffy center, like a perfectly cooked baked potato or a mouthful of savory clouds.

We told Steward we were going to write about his fries and that some people might find that odd. He agreed.

"People will be like 'oh, this guy doesn't know what he's talking about, talking about good French fries,' " Steward said. "A fry is a fry, you know. But at the same time, people feel like, 'oh, why is this fry so good? What's so different?' And that's what we need right now. We need people talking about Terry Hills. So many times I hear that people forget that Terry Hills is a restaurant."

A native of Rochester, Steward, is a new father, current resident of Le Roy and the former sous chef at Farmer's Creekside Tavern & Inn.

Terry Hills isn't his first head chef's job, but it may be his most important. It's a chance, he said, not only to take Terry Hills to the next level but also to better establish his name and provide his staff with the training necessary to help advance their careers. Those are his goals.

They're ambitious for a guy who a little over six years ago started in the restaurant business as a dishwasher and quickly moved through his first kitchen, entirely self taught, to be ready to run a kitchen himself a few years later -- La Luna, in Rochester.

"Yeah, I never went to a culinary college or school," Steward said. "Everything I've learned, I've learned on the job. I've done a lot of research on my own, watched a lot of shows, read a lot. When I first started, I would go to the public market and buy a bag full of potatoes and  sit in my apartment working on knife cuts."

Danielle Rotondo, VP, and co-owner of Terry Hills, said Steward was just what management was looking for -- young and ambitious and eager to take the dining experience for lunch, dinners, and banquets to the next level. He came out on top after three rounds of interviews and several reference checks.

"We want to grow; we want to do more; we want to show Batavia that we're not just a golf course," Rotondo said. "You know we have our golf course, our restaurant, our banquet facility, we have all of that here, and, yes, we want to show that there are some different things out here and there are different ways to do it. Yes, it's Batavia, but we can also go on the edge a little bit and try something else."

To show off how Terry Hills will take it to the next level, a couple of weeks ago the restaurant hosted a chef's menu night for a few dozens guests both to introduce some new dishes and as a kind of soft opening on how things are changing.

It was at that chef's menu night that we tried those crisp, fluffy fries. But Steward also introduced diners to his gnocchi carbonara, like everything that night, made from scratch, consisting of hand-rolled, house-made ricotta in a rich and thick carbonara sauce with diced ham and peas.

Steward also served a dry-aged strip steak, a pan-seared salmon, chicken roulade, to go along with a wedge salad, a Caesar salad, and a grain medley.

Many of these dishes -- particularly, say, the fries and the gnocchi -- take substantial prep time but Steward said there's no reason he and his line staff aren't up to the demands of the extra effort.

"As you're organized, you always have lists going; then it should be executable," Steward said. "There's no reason why it shouldn't be executable."

Steward said what makes a good dining experience is fresh ingredients, scratch cooking, and service. It's his job to oversee all aspects of a guest's experience at Terry Hills now, and he plans to pay attention to those details.

"Even if I go to a diner, or if I go to a finer place, you can see if the food is taken care of, if people care about quality," Steward said. "I think that is what makes a good meal -- making sure you use fresh ingredients, you use the proper techniques, execute the proper techniques. Your execution is what makes a good meal."

He said he expects the care of the kitchen staff to be carried out into the dining room by the servers.

"Nothing frustrates me more when I go to a place, and I ask a server a question about the menu, and the server is like, 'I don't know,' Steward said. "You should, you should. To me, I feel like it's your job to know the menu to know what the chef is trying to cook.

"There's going to be time and money invested to ensure our staff is trained properly."

The one thing Steward didn't change for the night was Terry Hill's famous seafood bisque.

"The only thing I might change is the garnish and change the saltines to oyster crackers," Steward said. "I think a seafood bisque should have oyster crackers."

While upgrading the sit-down lunch and dinner menus for Terry Hills is high on the agenda, Steward said he also plans to revamp the banquet service.

"I'm not knocking the former chefs here, but some of these recipes are outdated," Steward said, "by like 25 years."

That doesn't necessarily mean there will be big changes in menu choices. He already considers Terry Hills the premier banquet facility in Batavia. He thinks a few changes to how things are done will make it even better.

"I understand that like I can completely get everything off the menu," Steward said. "But, again, some of the techniques we're using here again are outdated. No one uses them anymore so. Therefore, we need to update our techniques to make a better product. The quality of the product will improve but still essentially be the same, they will have the same ingredients, but it's just going to be a better product overall because it's done better."

Steward said the chef's that inspire him include: Massimo Bottura, owner of Osteria Francescana in Italy, now ranked the #1 restaurant in the world (Bottura was the subject of the first episode of Chef's Table on Netflix); Thomas Keller, a chef and restauranteur in California; and, Wylie Dufresne, a chef in Manhattan.

"I pride myself working hard, putting in the hours," Steward said. "I think anyone who does that is going to do well in any field."

Steward thinks he can take what he's learned on his own and use that knowledge to help make his line cooks better. He would like to be known as a chef who helps his staff advance their careers.

"I really want to make really good food," Steward said. "In that process, I want to teach the guys that are here, too. As I said from day one, my goal is for you guys, whenever your time is up here, is to walk into any kitchen (and) be the best cook that walks in that kitchen because you've got trained by me."

October 28, 2018 - 4:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Los Compadres, restaurants, batavia, news, business.

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You know you're in an authentic taqueria when you spot a sign next to the salsa roja warning the gringos, "Danger!"

Not every dish in a Mexican restaurant is spicy, of course, but if the discerning diner doesn't have the option to bite into something that bites back, then it's just not the real deal.

A bottle of Frank's Hot Sauce on the counter doesn't cut it.

"I think we are very very authentic," said Jose Castañeda, owner of the brand new Los Compadres at 40 Oak St., Batavia. "We serve tacos and pretty much that's what we do. We will be getting a liquor license, of course, in the near future.

(The U.S. colloquial translation of Los Compadres is "The Buddies.")

"We do try to be as authentic as we can. We have very good people, very good cooks and they take a lot of pride in what they do. I think that helps us to be successful."

During the first week of business, local residents have had no trouble finding Los Compadres, keeping the lunch and dinner hours busy, often with repeat customers, Castañeda said.

"Many people that we've served since we opened had come back three days in a row," Castañeda said.

The success isn't unexpected for Castañeda. This is the 10th Upstate Mexican restaurant the Batavia-resident has opened, including another Los Compadres in Evans Mills, near Ft. Drum, with the same menu, that has done very well.

"I would say that 90 percent of our customer base is military (at Los Compadres in Evans Mills)," Castañeda said. "They are very happy with the food there. We are a five-star restaurant there and we have a thousand reviews. Being that I'm a resident in Batavia and I wanted to do it here, too."

For those of us with experience eating at authentic taquerias, there are other good signs when you walk into Los Compadres, starting with the straightforward menu above the front counter, the Mexican pottery and artwork displayed in the dining area, a salsa bar so you can garnish your own tacos, and the drink dispenser serving Mexican favorites, the refreshing agua frescas -- horchata, tamarindo and jamaica.

On the menu, tacos, tortas, quesadillas, and tamales, with meat choices including pollo (chicken), carne asada (the main ingredient in an authentic Tijuana street taco), molida (ground beef), barbacoa (brisket), al pastor (pork with pineapple), chorizo (Mexican pork sausage), cesina (dry salted steak), lengua (tongue), camarones (shrimp), tripa (gut), taco baja (fried fish), taco compadres (fried shrimp).

One of the best things about Mexican food is it is inexpensive. Tacos range in price from $2.50 to $4.

Rice and refried beans on the side are only $1 each.

The tacos are served with corn tortillas, which is as it should be; though, if you want to go gringo with your tacos, you can order flour tortillas.

Castañeda staff takes the time with new customers who may have little experience with Mexican food to explain the difference between tacos, torts, quesadillas and tamales.

The secret to a restaurant's success, Castañeda said, isn't just the food, it's the customer service. Restaurants that fail often miss the mark with customer service, so he said he makes sure his staff provides great service.

Castañeda was born in Zacatecas, Mexico, which is in the north central area of the country, south of Monterrey, north of Guadalajara. His parents immigrated when he was a young child and their first jobs were picking cotton in Texas.

While he was still a child, they moved to Western New York for farm work. Near the end of his 10th-grade year, Castañeda dropped out of high school and took a job on a farm in Brockport.

When he was 16, he went to work for Craig Yunker at CY Farms.

"I've worked ever since," Castañeda said. "I worked for the farms and any farm work I did, I did with pride in everything I did. It didn't matter what I was doing, whether I was sweeping the floor or if I was operating a tractor, I put pride in my work. That's that was how I was raised."

Castañeda started in the cabbage fields at CY Farms, he said. It wasn't long before the Yunkers took notice of his worth ethic. He was made a tractor operator and then moved to pesticide management for Batavia Turf. By 2006, after learning every job of the operation, he became manager of Batavia Turf, a position he held until 2016 when he quit to give his full attention to his burgeoning restaurant empire.

Castañeda started in the food business after visiting a cabbage operation for CY Farms in Florida and spotting a food trailer serving migrant workers on the farm there.

"I was down there and I saw people coming to the farms and bringing the food to the migrant workers so I thought it's a great idea," Castañeda said. "At that time here in Genesee County there was none of that going on, so I went to Indiana and bought a trailer."

His wife, Karina, pretty much ran that business until six years ago when she became pregnant with their now 5-year-old son.

In 2014, he opened his first restaurant in Lockport.

He was working at this point more than 100 hours a week, starting at Batavia Turf at 4 a.m. and working until the early evening and then doing the books and paperwork for his restaurants at night.

"It was busy working on the farm and trying to manage the restaurant," Castañeda said. "I felt there was a good business. It was a lot of work but it was a good business."

Leaving CY Farms wasn't an easy decision, though Castañeda said it proved to be the right decision.

"My wife was opposed to it because I guess, we got so used to working on the farm and making a living," Castañeda said. "I was pretty much my own boss."

Castañeda and Karina have three children, Brenda, 24, Jocelyn, 17, and Jose Sebastian, 5. The family bought a home in the City of Batavia 15 years ago.

"My parents were migrant workers," said Castañeda, whose mother has returned to Mexico and whose father died 12 years ago. "They started picking cotton in Texas. We grew up very poor. Even when I got married to my wife back in 1993, we were very, very poor.

"I worked many hours on the farm. Still, we were barely getting by. But I think through years of hard work and persistence, I always had a dream to give my kids what I wasn't given."

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October 22, 2018 - 5:39pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Fishtales Hideaway, batavia, restaurants, news, business.

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In "Kitchen Confidential," Anthony Bourdain famously advised diners, "never order fish on a Monday."

That works out well for Todd and Grace Fannin, who over the summer opened a new seafood restaurant in Batavia with a plan to make sure their fish is always fresh by buying it from the fish market in Buffalo on Wednesday and Thursday and serving it all by Saturday night.

"That's advice we live by because when we do have our liquor license and we are open seven days a week, we are going to have a tighter menu," Todd said. "Our menu is going to be a shorter menu the days we're closed now, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday."

With a little over two months in business under their belts, Todd and Grace like the way things are going and the response they've received from local diners so far.

"We wanted to bring something that Batavia had a need for," Todd said. "There was a customer base here that nobody tapped into. There are the burger joints and the pizzerias and the Smoke House and the Italian restaurants. We thought Batavia had a need for something of this nature that would appeal to a certain audience and we found that audience."

This is the fourth restaurant the couple has opened over the past 30 years. The previous ones were on the shores of Lake Ontario and while they also specialized in seafood, they were seasonal. Fishtales is their first attempt to run a seafood restaurant year around.

The location is 107 Evans St., Batavia, the same location as The Little Ridge and Delavan's previously.

Even without a liquor license yet and little marketing, people are finding the restaurant and the crowds are growing.

"We've had a couple of really great Friday and Saturday nights recently," Grace said. "The best we’ve had. I would say the business is building right now and that was our goal."

In recent weeks, flounder and snapper have been popular, along with tuna, cod, trout, and scallops (there's also steak and chicken on the menu).

"Last Friday, it was not your typical Friday fish fry crowd," Todd said. "It was a younger crowd, a full house and they were going for more of the sauteed and the broiled dishes. Our crowd is changing and yet it's growing."

Some local restaurateurs have shied away from seafood because customers demand freshness and they feared Batavia might not support seafood sufficiently to manage the product properly, but Todd said it's all about listening to your customers and paying attention to what they want. He felt confident he could make it work in Batavia.

"We don’t cut corners here; we try to put a good product out and I think people are starting to notice that," Todd said. "At least that's the feedback we get."

April 20, 2018 - 2:01pm
posted by Genesee Chamber... in batavia, downtown, business, tourism, chamber of commerce, restaurants, Vegan.

This Earth Day, the very first 100-percent vegan restaurant in Genesee County is opening up to share a different kind of delicious food with locals and visitors alike. Yep, you read that right! One-hundred-percent vegan food will be served up at Eden Café & Bakeshop!

Located inside Eli Fish Brewing Company, at 109 Main St., Batavia, there is a glimpse of the garden, with generous plant-based meals, fresh juices, and even treats to satisfy your sweet tooth. Join Eden Café & Bakeshop for their grand opening THIS SUNDAY, April 22nd, starting at 12 p.m.

There will be lots going on including a Cutco knife giveaway, raffles, and branded tumblers will be available for purchase. Be one of the first to experience a new kind of cuisine after the ribbon-cutting ceremony at 2 p.m. 

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What began as a thought of opening a zero-waste store, slowly turned into Eden Café & Bakeshop. Owner, Judy Hysek, is bringing some seriously tasty and animal-free food choices to all in and around Genesee County!

Hysek has been vegan for three years, which just so happens to be enough time to experiment with plant-based foods and create some delicious concoctions to share with you!

“I’m hoping to open the community up to a new way of eating," she said. "I want to make it easier for people who don’t know how to eat without meat and dairy… I would have gone vegan a lot sooner if there was more support, education, and availability... I’m just trying to add to the awareness and make it more accessible."

Now, let’s get down to business. Let’s talk about the food!

Carrot Dogs: You may have heard of these soon-to-be-famous “dogs” already, especially if you follow Eden Café & Bakeshop’s Facebook Page.

Imagine a carrot, in the shape of a traditional hot dog, which has been infused with deliciousness and then topped with more deliciousness of your choice. You’ll have to try it for yourself the next time you're in Eli Fish.

Word on the street is that even omnivores can't tell the difference between a carrot dog and a traditional hot dog. We dare you to give it a try and test your taste buds to see if you can tell the difference. Try your first carrot dog on a roll or wrapped in a pretzel and baked until golden brown! 

Cauliflower Wings: Where have these been all our lives? Since Western New York is the home of Buffalo Wings, it only makes sense to have “wings” on the menu at Eden.

You can have your wings tossed in Buffalo sauce or topped with the sweet mustard sauce. You can’t go wrong with either sauce -- so good! The breaded and baked florets are served with carrots and celery sticks with a house-made dip. The cauliflower wings can also be made gluten free and they're just as tasty!

Loaded Nachos: What goes better with a cold brew from Eli Fish than a pile of nachos? What about a pile of nachos smothered in a vegan beer cheese? There is nothing more satisfying!

Speaking of cheese…

Eden will have a variety of house made vegan, artisan cheeses including almond feta and cashew mozzarella, which will come on the poutine. (Poutine is a dish originating from the Canadian province of Quebec consisting of French fries and cheese curds topped with a brown gravy.) Where else can you get poutine in Batavia, let alone a vegan poutine?!

Other menu items include desserts like cashew cheesecake, cookies, brownies and more. Desserts will rotate to give everyone the opportunity to try something new and yummy!

Last but definitely not least -- fresh juices, smoothies, lemonades and kombucha! This week I was lucky enough to try a fresh juice made of apples, strawberries and raspberries. (Please make this a rotating juice, it was so good!)

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Did you know?

Veganism is on a climb throughout the world. In the United States, a recent report by Top Trends in Prepared Foods in 2017, says “6 percent of U.S. consumers now claim to be vegan, up from just 1 percent in 2014.”

Eden is here to satisfy some taste buds and open some minds to the benefits of eating healthy, saving animals, and the planet. Everyone should rejoice and get involved in the efforts to sustain our planet and you can start right at home, or at Eden.

Oh, and by the way -- Eden is donating all gratuities to a nonprofit right here in Genesee County. Mockingbird Farm Sanctuary in Byron provides a home and lifetime care to animals regardless of their condition or past. Their goal is to improve the mental, physical and emotional well-being of the animals who live on the farm. Eden is already showing love to others trying to make a difference right here at home!

For more information on Eden Cafe and other hotspots in Genesee County, visit: https://visitgeneseeny.com/

April 2, 2018 - 1:20pm
posted by Genesee Chamber... in food, restaurants, business.

From the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce:

Whether you’re visiting for the first time or are a regular local – it’s hard to beat some of the delicious eats found in Genesee County. We’ve got everything from BBQ and burgers to sushi to classic diner foods – complete with craft beverages and creative culinary creations sure to make your stomach rumble.

On the days that you just don’t feel like cooking or the nights that you are looking to experience something new – we’ve got you covered. Start with one of these six local eateries for a fantastic meal with all of the enjoyment and none of the work.

  • Batavia's Original Pizza. This stop has been loved by Batavia for years! Located on Main Street, Batavia’s Original is locally owned and operated -- and always has been. Owner Kathy Ferrara learned the art of pizza making from legendary pizzaiolo Sam Pontillo – and those skills have served her well. She’s still cooking up some of the best pies around – homemade with the freshest dough and ingredients.

Must Try: Their traditional white pizza. With ooey-gooey, melty mozzarella and ricotta, fresh broccoli and spinach, this pizza is a Batavia favorite.

  • Bourbon & Burger Co. Bourbon & Burger Co. tells you all you need to know upfront -- they do burgers and they do them well. Their menu boasts nearly 30 kinds of mouth-watering burgers, including their signature Kentucky Bourbon Company Burger, and their bourbon menu has more than 80 different kinds. They also have a rotating burger of the month, daily specials and over 24 rotating craft beers on tap – whew!

Must Try: The burger of the month. With so many drool-inducing options, there’s no wrong choice here – and who better to trust than the chef himself? Whichever flavor their offering when you visit, it’s sure to be creative and delicious- a perfect combination.

  • Indian Falls Log Cabin Restaurant. This place has history – and a great menu. Nestled next to Indian Falls, Indian Falls Log Cabin Restaurant was built in 1946 as part of the Tonawanda Indian Reservation. Now, it strives to preserve that history, while also serving up delicious food and a fantastic view.  

Must Try: Buffalo Bread. It’s a creative twist on a classic favorite – chopped chicken fingers shaken in hot sauce, topped with melted mozzarella and blue cheese and smothered over soft, warm garlic bread. The perfect starter to a meal – or side to a cold brew!

  • Le Roy's No Finer Diner. Sometimes, you just need a classic diner meal. That’s what Le Roy’s No Finer Diner is all about – serving up cozy classics in a relaxing hometown atmosphere. There are so many options at this little eatery, it can be hard to know where to start!

Must Try: The Eggs Benny. The tasty hollandaise, runny eggs and succulent ham are sure to fill you up, served on a toasted English muffin with a side of home fries or hash brown. A classic diner meal done well, every time.

  • T.F. Brown's. For more than 20 years, T.F. Brown's has been a community staple -- so much so that we wrote a whole blog on just them! Brown's could be classified as a sports bar – they’ve got the TVs showing all kinds of games; the sports memorabilia lining the walls; and they were even named for Major League pitcher Mordecai Brown. But there’s something else there that makes this place unforgettable. Grab a bite or stop in and bowl a game (the restaurant is attached to the Mancuso Bowling Center!). We think you’ll see what we mean.

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Must Try: The Batavia’s Favorite. “The Best” Beef on Weck, six jumbo wings, and your choice of fries or macaroni salad. It’s all the local goodness packed onto one plate – and you just can’t argue with the locals.

  • Peking Buffet. All you can eat – and the perfect place to satisfy your craving for every type of Chinese food imaginable. At Peking Buffet, the food is fresh and the menu is plentiful – they’ve got soup, seafood, chow mein, moo shu, curry, egg foo young and everything in between.

Must Try: The sushi! You don’t expect a buffet to do sushi like this – but Peking sushi hits the spot: rainbow rolls, spider rolls, dragon rolls, asparagus rolls – raw, cooked, sashimi and more.

For more delicious eats in Genesee County, take a moment to explore the Dining section of the chamber's website and find your next favorite! Or visit www.visitgeneseeny.com for information about the area.

February 28, 2018 - 3:11pm
posted by Genesee Chamber... in Farmer's Creekside Tavern & Inn, Le Roy, news, tourism, restaurants, business.

In July 2017, we welcomed a new business to Genesee County – but its building has history dating back to the 1820s. On Main Street in Le Roy sits the beautiful Farmer’s Creekside Tavern & Inn.

Walk in the front doors and you’ll find yourself in a cozy downstairs tavern and restaurant. Journey upstairs, and you’ll be blown away by the stunning gathering spaces and overnight accommodations. And no matter where you step, you’ll be able to see the view of the Oatka Creek bed – stunning in both the summer and winter months.

With so much beauty and finery, you’d never know that Farmer’s Creekside has a rich and tragic history. The building was constructed in the 1820s and was one of Main Street, Le Roy’s first locations. Over the years, the building served as a hat factory, a bank office, and several private residences. But in 2004, a fire nearly claimed the building for good, destroying almost all of the structure and interior.

Restoring this building and opening Creekside has truly been a labor of love for owner Bill Farmer. He acquired the building in 2007 and is welcoming visitors to enjoy the space – 10 years later.

Now that the wait is over, it’s time to make your reservation. Executive Chef Sean Wolf offers a tavern menu with sandwiches, salads and snacks, and a more upscale dinner menu featuring modern expressions of classic tavern fare. You’re bound to find something to make your mouth water. And with a well-stocked bar featuring 18 beers on tap and a selection of regional and global wines, there are plenty of drink options to complement your meal.

Once you’ve filled your belly, check out the view – or check into one of three brand new suites. Each one is decorated differently and features a modern yet timeless design that perfectly blends into the building’s brick walls, black Marcellus shale, and original wood beams.

On occasion, Farmer’s Creekside will host special events that are open to the public. They also offer space for private events and gatherings with advance reservation.

Support Genesee County’s newest offering! Farmer’s is open for lunch and dinner, Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. The Bar is open for extended hours in the evenings, and overnights can be booked year-round.

Learn more about Farmer’s Creekside and their story at: http://www.farmerscreekside.com/. Or visit www.VisitGeneseeNY.com to learn more about Genesee County's unique attractions and local offerings.

September 7, 2017 - 1:06pm

Press release:

A new restaurant ownership training course is slated to begin in October featuring two monthly classes over the winter, or approximately 26 hours of training that concludes in February.

The program involves two juried tastings that each class participant is required to prepare. Registration opens online Friday, Sept. 8th at www.freshLabBatavia.com. Top contestants of the freshLAB Foodie Challenge may win free tuition to attend the freshLAB Boot Camp. 

A range of small business specialists and industry experts have been coordinated by the Batavia Development Corporation to prepare the aspiring restaurant owners for a business sector that is reported to have a multimillion dollar opportunity in Genesee County.

Genesseans are assumed to spend approximately $20,000,000 to eat, drink and be entertained some place other than Genesee County. The downtown strategy is to keep the dining dollars local by becoming a dining and entertainment destination that will capitalize on the market opportunity.

“We are hosting a Foodie Challenge Sept. 23rd to stir food creativity,” said Barb Shine, coordinator of the program and Batavia Development Corporation Board member. “Good flavors come first, we want creative cooks to consider opening his/her restaurant.

"To follow, we’ve assumed a bigger role to coordinate the Boot Camp. We’ve corralled the necessary resources and experts for talented and industrious operators to seriously consider the restaurant business.”

Research and local experience shows that a written business plan is not a sufficient judge of a candidate’s readiness to get started or grow. In fact, 59 percent of hospitality businesses fail within three years according to Restaurant Management Software POS Sector study. One reason for failure is noted as the lack of a strong concept setting the business apart from the competition.

The Boot Camp instruction has carved-out more than three hours to discuss the trends and market opportunities in food service, a highly competitive and shifting business.

“What’s your 'Because?” " asked Katie Frilllici, representative of JFS/Curtze food distributor. “You must have a compelling reason for people to select your eatery over another.” 

JFS/Curtze should know, they have been in the food business for 135 years. Frillici and her colleagues have been invited to participate as guest instructors for the Boot Camp where they, too, will share trade ideas to help develop a winning concept. JFS/Curtze is a full-line food service distributor now serving eight states.

Other select instruction will be led by Palmer Food Services, Chef Tracy Burgio of Batavia Career & Technical Education Center and Matt Gray, entrepreneur and owner of five restaurants. Legal, insurance and regulatory representatives in addition to agriculture business educators will be on hand.

Tentative Boot Camp program schedule:

  • October: Program Orientation and introduction of restaurant operations, concepts, etc.;
  • November: “Back of House” featuring inventory management, food safety in addition to a juried tasting prepared by Boot Camp participants;
  • December: Finance and accounting for the restaurant business, freshLAB support area;
  • January: Concept development and business pitch, topped with final juried tasting;
  • February: Independent study, final business plan due;
  • March: two candidates will each open a restaurant at freshLAB restaurant incubator turn-key space, pre-approved for a $30,000 special rate loan

Industry experts will lead the classroom training in operations, marketing and financial management. Other mentors will guide menu planning to inventory management, distributor purchasing to farm sourcing. Estimated Course Value more than $1,300 being offered for $349.

The Boot Camp is considered a prerequisite for entrepreneurs considering to lease space at the new freshLAB restaurant incubator foodhall now under construction on Main Street, Batavia. The Foodie Challenge will reward the top five competitors by offering TUITION FREE invitation to the Boot Camp.

freshLAB restaurant incubator was conceived to strengthen the local food service industry and capitalize on more than $20,000,000 that leave Genesee County each year when residents eat, drink and enjoy entertainment elsewhere.

The project is funded, in part, by USDA Rural Development to intentionally link regional agriculture to the menu. A program coordinated by the Batavia Development Corporation in cooperation with the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, Batavia Business Improvement District and Batavia Career & Technical Education Center. https://freshlabbatavia.com/

August 3, 2017 - 10:25am
posted by Maria Pericozzi in corfu, Three T's Family Diner, news, restaurants, business.

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A few members of the Toy family, from left to right, Coby, Tracy, Wade and Tyler.

Wade and Tracy Toy have five kids and know the struggle of getting a good meal for a large family, without breaking the wallets.

That’s why they opened Three T’s Family Diner, located at 2 Corfu Plaza in Corfu. While they live in Cheektowaga, the travel time is worth it, Tracy said.

“It seemed like the small town didn’t have much going for it,” Tracy said. “We figured if we do this, maybe other things would pick up and the town would be back to where it was years ago.”

Wade and Tracy found the Corfu location on Craigslist and thought the place had potential.

They started renovating the location in January and finished in May. Wade said they stripped everything right down to the firewalls.

Wade used to drive a truck and Tracy was a railroad clerk, up until the beginning of this year.

“We both quit our jobs to put our time and effort into the diner,” Tracy said.

Tracy said they plan to leave the diner to their kids, Jessica, 23, Joshua, 21, Jacob, 19, Tyler, 15, and Coby 13.

“We also have a 4-year-old grandson that comes here,” Tracy said. “He gives out the menus and straws.”

The hope is that further down the road, Wade and Tracy will pass the diner along to their kids, while they go mobile and purchase a food truck for events and parties.

For locals, if they have ideas for what should be on the menu, Tracy and Wade are open to suggestions.

“We’ll try it out,” Tracy said. “Even if we don’t know what it is, we will look it up and figure it out.”

Wade said one customer requested chipped beef and gravy last week, which has been added to the specials. Tracy said they hope to receive a lot of feedback from customers.

The diner is open every day of the week, except Wednesday, from 8 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., and accepts cash only.

They just started with takeout and delivery only to local businesses.

Tracy said they hope to expand to dinner hours in the near future.

“People can come here with their families and have a good, decent meal,” Tracy said. “Then, they can leave with money in their wallet and still be able to take their kids out.” 

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The diner is located behind the carwash in the Corfu Plaza, next to the American Family Market.

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May 10, 2017 - 4:12pm

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A group of writers and photographers, mostly food and wine critics from Monroe County, were in Le Roy last night to be the first to experience Farmer's Creekside Inn.

Ten years have passed since Bill Farmer, chairman of Catenary Construction in Rochester and a specialist in historical preservation of concrete and masonry buildings, saw the Creekside Inn for the first time.

It wasn't a pretty sight. Three years earlier the Creekside had been destroyed by a fire people in Le Roy still talk about.

"Part of it is the environment," Farmer said about what attracted him to buying and restoring the 200-year-old building. "It was a vision when I first looked at the building, and it was in dire shape.

"It was collapsing. It was ravaged by fire. But I took a look at the environment, the setting, the historic structures that are across the creek, the composite of the village itself, the post office across the street, and I thought this was just an unbelievable setting that was unrecognized."

He decided to set out and create a dining and hospitality destination that was second to none in Western New York.

The preview dinner last night was the first time Farmer could see that vision start to come into focus in a meaningful way. There's still a lot of work to do on the interior of the building before Farmer's Creekside Tavern & Inn opens to the public on June 5, but Farmer said he has the right people in place to make it happen.

"It’s really overwhelming-- this event, this private little dinner we hosted tonight was a culmination of a fast track of putting the kitchen together, hanging the final fixtures," Farmer said. "The floors are only three days old. It’s really a tad overwhelming to see it come so beautifully, full of life, and so many people here enjoying the experience and seeing the staff perform. I just feel so flattered and honored to have the staff we have."

It's been eight years since The Batavian first paid a visit to the Creekside and met Farmer. We've dropped in several times over the years since and been impressed each time with the attention to detail; the quality Farmer is investing in the building. The new floors are real hardwood; the interior railings are oak, the fixtures are the highest quality and the amenities -- exterior patio and bar with a gas fireplace, a tavern, a fine dining room, guest rooms on the top floor -- are well thought out and designed.

As the opening day approaches, it's clear Farmer has given the same attention to detail in hiring his staff, with Chris Grocki as general manager and Sean Wolf as executive chef.

"I’ve always felt blessed by the people that I employ," Farmer said. "I've had people working for me now for well into a 30-year span. I value my employees. I recognize their efforts. It’s just so rewarding when you put together a good team, and they go out and execute the plan. That holds true with everything we do whether it’s real estate development or masonry and concrete services, masonry restoration services, and now it's going into our food and hospitality services."

Farmer said he decided on Grocki and Wolf as his top leadership in the restaurant several months ago and said throughout the process he's convinced he made the right choices.

During his opening remarks before the dinner, Grocki was equally effusive about his new boss.

"Opening a restaurant is a labor of love, and we’ve got a family here that has no shortage of it," Grocki said, adding, "I’ve never had the pleasure of working for somebody who has gone for it in quite this way. You always say, 'You don’t do anything like anybody else does.' and clearly that’s true."

One of the key people in helping the restaurant, tavern and inn come together so beautifully, Farmer said, was interior designer Jason Longo. Longo said Farmer was a special client.

"Chris and I had worked on a project before, and I called Chris one night," Longo said, "and I was nearly in tears, and I said, 'I can't believe that in my career' -- which has been going on for some time now -- 'that I've ever worked on a project where people gave everything, from the carpenters to the electricians. Every single person who has worked on this project is so invested and so involved.' "

Farmer said he just had a passion for the project since the day he saw the building and has made sure he's had the right people in place to make sure the vision became a reality.

"It seemed pretty clear to me when I came to the building, looked at the site, saw the surroundings, stone building, 200 years old almost, I hate to say it, but for me, it was a no-brainer to get involved in," Farmer said.

"You’ve got to have a passion for it," he added. "I think that’s the driving force. I fell in love with this place. I fell in love with the building. The site. Part of the experience of rehabbing and building it and meeting all the challenges and solving all the issues are a great part of it."

The dinner consisted of multiple courses loosely paired with wines, mostly from the Finger Lakes. It started with a ceviche of Alaskan halibut, bitter spring greens, truffle chicken, followed by a surf and turf and a dessert of foie gras. Wines included a Hermann J. Wiemer Blanc de Noir 2011, Ravines Dry Riesling Argetsinger Vineyard 2012, Palo Cortado 'Peninsula' Sherry' and a Benanti Etna Bianco 2015, among others.

The idea, Grocki said, was to give guests a sample of what will be served in the tavern and in the fine dining room, known as the Cleveland Room, which will serve fine dining, destination, and special occasion meals four days a week. The fine dining room, the tavern, the patios, all told, will seat 400 people.  

Farmer thinks the Creekside Inn will become a destination location, drawing people from throughout the region, especially Buffalo and Rochester.

"I had no idea initially how important of a project this would be, but over the years it’s become apparent," Farmer said. "I’ve realized this is a significant, significant project for Western New York, the Town of Le Roy, the county. It’s a very meaningful project, and I’m flattered and privileged to be that guy doing it."

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Truffle chicken

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Surf and turf

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The tavern, still under construction

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One of the inn's guest rooms.

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Bill Farmer, Sean Wolf, Chris Grocki

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Bill's son, Bill, daughter Hailey, who will run fine dining, her son Ryder, and Bill Farmer.

October 7, 2016 - 4:14pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, news, restaurants, fab fajita & pita, business.

An array of fresh, healthy, tasty salads, wraps, fajitas, pitas and "fun food" like Jersey Shore "Disco fries" is offered at a new eatery on West Main Street in Batavia's Valu Plaza.

Fab Fajita & Pita is a place where you can "Wrap up some WOW!" The menu boasts a moveable feast that spans the globe: Mexico, Italy, Sicily, Greece, Asia with options to build your own or suit to your liking.

If you have a sweet tooth, you'll appreciate the flaky, honey-laden baklava, moist cookies and hefty brownies -- all made from scratch.

"What we offer is fresh, high quality, afforable food," said owner Victor Canastraro, who lives in East Amherst and would like his first foray into the restaurant business to be successful enough to grow into several locations.

Crafting the menu and trying out different combinations and flavor profiles took time. The result is a range of uncommon fare prepared in a spotlessly clean kitchen for diners in a spotlessly clean, spacious eating area.

Some menu items that "just hit" and just right, too:

One appetizer is the Red Eye Fries ($4.25) -- fries topped with two eggs sunny side up and a spicy Sriracha sauce that "will make your eyes pop!" The Asian Salad ($5.95) is made up of a fresh spring lettuce mix with mandarin oranges, Roma tomatoes, fresh strawberries, sliced almonds, served with sesame ginger vinagrette, topped with crispy Asian noodles.

"The Greek" ($5.95) is a traditional pita filled with gyro meat -- a mixture of beef and lamb perfectly seasoned, with lettuce, tomato and feta cheese, topped with a snappy Tzatziki sauce. "The Sicilian" ($6.50) features succulent calamari, wrapped with lettuce, tomato, lemon juice and topped with a special homemade sauce.

At Thanksgiving time, they plan to offer a wrap and/or pita that will include turkey, stuffing and gravy.

"We experimented," Canastraro said. "We wanted something that explodes in your mouth. I enjoy making flavor. I pride myself on being creative."

He has some experience in the flavor department. For the better part of the last decade, he has grown a successful chain of electronic cigarette shops, and flavor is mighty important to e-cig consumers. He has two stores in Rochester, one in Irondequoit, one in Gates, one in Depew, and two in Florida.

The 43-year-old also knows the food business can be "a nightmare" -- his dad was in the restaurant business. But he's up to the challenge of building something from the ground up after an official with Valu Plaza convinced him that a specialty restaurant would be a good fit for the location.

Getting it ready to open was "a hell of an awakening."

He spent $80,000 on new equipment that included refrigerators and freezers, new paint, new tables and chairs. He took some solace in at least not having to buy a new heat and fire-suppression system. That was, until an inspector came out and found two holes on the sides of the existing system (used at this former restaurant site) and said it, too, would have to be replaced.

Done.

A week ago Monday, some friends and family and a few others stopped by for a training day, which ended up being quite busy and prompted some additional equipment purchases. Fab Fajita & Pita officially opened Sept. 30.

His credits his father, the son of Sicilian immigrants, with teaching him the value of hard work.

"My father was the kind of guy who always had a full-time job, plus a part-time job," Canastraro said. "He always told me 'If you want anything in this world you have to work for it.' "

One lesson was learned when the younger Canastraro became a new father at age 20 and money was tight. His utility bill came due and he needed money to pay it. He asked his dad for help. His dad said "Are you hungry? Come over and I'll feed you a bologna sandwich. You need a loan? Go to the bank."

"It was the best thing he could have taught me," Canastraro says in hindsight.

Eventually, the grandson of Sicilians got into the mortgage and finance business and succeeded. He's lived in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, Fla., and in Colorado.

In sensing the economic climate and the state of the real estate business in 2007, he convinced his wife, Dawn, to sell their assets in 2007 and move back to Buffalo in 2008. It was a fortuitious move.

"I like Buffalo," says its native son. "People drive a Chevy Impala if what they can afford is a Chevy Impala, not a BMW."

Dawn is the baker in the family. He credits her with the ability to make "50-pound brownies" that will have you "grinning from ear to ear."

"It's all about love," Canastraro said, noting he is "blessed with an unrivaled faith in God." "Take care of people. If you do that -- the guy upstairs -- whatever you want to call it -- takes care of us."

To that end, he said he hopes to grow with the community in Genesee County, which he believes is uniquely poised for growth, and be charitable, especially to first responders, the disabled and veterans.

Fab Fajita & Pita is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight. Closed Sunday. The address is 4125 W. Main Street Road. (www.fabfajita.com).

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